• Kyodo


Sampdoria striker Atsushi Yanagisawa came to the rescue with his second goal of the week to give Japan a 1-1 draw away to Romania in the final game of its friendly tour of Africa and Europe on Saturday.

News photoJapan midfielder Hidetoshi Nakata battles Romanian defender Flavius Stoican for control of the ball during the first half of their international friendly in Bucharest on Saturday.
The match ended in a 1-1 draw.

After falling behind to a first-half strike from Adrian Mutu, Yanagisawa — who scored his first goal in almost two years against Tunisia on Wednesday — beat the Romania offside trap before slotting home in the 58th minute to give Zico’s men a deserved share of the spoils in Bucharest.

“We came up against a tough Romanian side that have a lot of skillful players and I thought we played well, particularly in the second half,” said Japan coach Zico.

“If it hadn’t been for some fine saves from their goalkeeper we might have come away with a win.”.

Zico started Denmark-based goalkeeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi in place of Seigo Narazaki, with Urawa Reds’ Keisuke Tsuboi among three of the Brazilian’s regular back four unavailable for the 1-0 win in Tunis, returning after their involvement in the semifinals of the J. League Nabisco Cup.

Yanagisawa started up front alongside Hamburg SV striker Naohiro Takahara, who came in for Takayuki Suzuki after missing the Tunisia match due to an eye injury.

Japan was unable to piece together any noteworthy chances in a dull opening half and it was the home side that broke the deadlock through Mutu in the 16th minute.

The newly signed Chelsea striker picked up a pass from Ionel Ganea on the right flank and shook off a weak challenge from Tsuboi before squeezing a shot under Kawaguchi at his near post.

Kawaguchi had to be alert to tip a dipping shot over the crossbar on the half hour before Japan, which looked bereft of ideas in the final third of the field, had its first chance of the match eight minutes before the interval.

Feyenoord midfielder Shinji Ono floated a corner over from the left and Yokohama F. Marinos defender Yuji Nakazawa stole in only to see a powerful header cleared off the line with goalkeeper Bogdan Lobont beaten.

Romania almost doubled the lead when Ganea saw a low shot hit the outside of the post in the 52nd minute before Yanagisawa grabbed the equalizer with a carbon copy of the goal he scored in Tunisia, picking up a clever through ball from captain Hidetoshi Nakata before tucking it into the back of the net.

Yanagisawa was denied a second when Lobont got down to his left to smother it in the 68th minute and also had a penalty claim waved away 11 minutes from time before Mutu almost grabbed a second for the hosts in the dying stages.

“I thought we did well in the second half and to come away with a draw in a difficult away match like this is a good result,” Yanagisawa said.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.